15 Ways The Howard Stern Show Jumped The Radio Shark

No-one can deny the impact The Howard Stern Show has had on medium of radio. Over a thirty year period, Stern single-handedly changed the very nature of radio in the United States. He developed his career on terrestrial radio from 1986 to 2005 and then in 2006 he moved his show to satellite radio to the newly minted ‘Sirius Radio’. After a 2008 merger, that company ultimately become the ‘Sirius XM Radio’ powerhouse that it is today. Times sure have changed since he emerged on the scene in the late 1980’s as the King of All Media and despite his lauded success over the years, his show may now no longer seem relevant in the modern, internet connected world. There seems that there is no place for Stern, and the other old-stagers of radio from the bygone glory days, to live out their final useful years. They appear to be destined to fade into static at the end of the dial on a radio that has long since died.

Despite its continued solid ratings on Sirius XM Satellite radio, The Stern Show may have overstayed its welcome in the public’s collective consciousness, with few, if any, millennials even knowing that one of the old-man judges on America’s Got Talent even has a active radio show. This spells imminent danger for the show, as his fans get older and die off and they are not being replaced by any younger listeners, further marginalizing Stern and his particular glorious brand of humor. That may make Stern a dinosaur, something that broadcast historians will study in the future, so it is now just a matter of how long Stern will keep at it now, when he clearly doesn’t care anymore. Critics and pundits say two years, but Stern already jumped the shark in 2015 and he has no illusions that he is going to jump back any time soon. Radio realists say one year or even less. The shark may have already digested Stern and he just doesn’t know it yet.

Let us look at the ways that Stern has jumped the radio shark:

1 – Not Knowing When To Quit Radio Could Be Howard Sterns Ultimate Folly

It is often reported in Hollywood, that big stars, with bigger egos, do not know when to bow out of the limelight. It can come to a point in a star’s career that the only motivator left for them is their own fragile ego, as they have already accumulated enough wealth and fame that means they will never want for anything for the rest of their life. Falling into that predictable cliche, Stern continues to broadcast his now less-than-stellar radio show on the Sirius network, ignoring the calls for him to bow out gracefully and at the top of his game. His Sirius radio show has become a shadow of its former self. The show seems to be broadcasting less frequently every year, with Stern now taking at least eighteen weeks off a year and not broadcasting a show on Fridays, leading fans to question whether his heart is in really in it anymore.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the many ways the Howard Stern Show has jumped the shark. The biggest issue that fans complain about is that Howard Stern moved over the years from his raw honesty to being “less than honest”. In the early days, one of the great attractions of his show was that Howard created a radio show “to be honest as practically possible” But in recent years Stern has become less and less honest to his listeners, often leaving out very important matters that had great influence over him, his show and all the people around him. Things like birth, death, cancer, divorce and infidelity all are now omitted from his show – leaving his fans feeling like they are no longer getting an ‘honest’ Stern, more like the Howard ‘Hollywood’ Stern.

2 – Howard’s Divorce, Dating Life And New Marriage to Beth Stern

howard-stern-alison-berns
Howard-Stern With Alison-Berns

After marrying in 1978 and then having three Children with Alison Berns, Howard Stern then ran into relationship problems and he went through a trial separation from Berns in 1999.  The couple then went on to divorce in 2001 and Stern began dating many famous women from NYC and Hollywood. All that information about Stern is not much of a revelation now, but it is was a huge revelation to Stern Show listeners who knew nothing about it until late 2002. Stern managed to keep all his dirty laundry out of the media and off the show for years. This seems hypocritical coming from the man that touted that he wanted to be as “honest as possible on his show”, so listeners could connect with him. During the period 1999 to 2002, Stern never once mentioned the personal marital struggles that he was facing and all the NYC models that he was having sex with. It was only in 2002, three years later,  did he mention anything of note, and even then he tried to play it down. Back in the early days, Howard Stern talked about his wife having a miscarriage the day after it happened, but now he seems to be at the other end of the spectrum, by speaking of nothing that is actually real or timely. His endless tirades about not getting married, and encouraging his audience to never get married and have children is often viewed as complete hypocrisy, especially when he turns around in 2008 and marries his girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky. He has vowed to never have any more children, but his fans know that he is now as unreliable as they come when it comes to these kinds of statements. His credibility is now about as low as it can get. What happened to the straight talking Stern? Who is this dishonest Stern that has replaced him? Maybe Stern was always a liar and fans were just duped by him. If that is true then it is a sad day of revelation.

3 – Robin Quivers Cancer – More Examples of Show Secrecy

In late 2012 Robin Quivers, Howard’s famous radio sidekick, disappeared from the show for 10 months without a single word about it from Howard. Listeners obviously guessed that Robin was no longer in the studio between 2012 and 2013. Once in a while in 2013, she would come back on the show using an ISDN line connected to a microphone at home, so she was still contributing to the show. Howard never made any reference to it and just carried on the show like everything was normal. He treated his listeners like they were all idiots. Any questioning phone calls to the show that brought up the matter were dropped and all references to Robin’s illness were axed from the show. Newspapers and magazines tried to report on her condition, but Howard decried all these reports and pretended everything was normal – effectively insulting the intelligence of his listeners, who clearly knew something was up and would find out later how much Stern was lying to them the whole time. For a show that made its name on brutal honesty, this is another good example of the current dishonesty of the show. One could argue that a frank discussion of Cancer could disrupt the wit and cadence of the show, but many see that that as a missed opportunity to reinvent the show through trying personal times. Is the show only appealing to fans from a T&A perspective? It seems that Stern believes that is his only audience, but he is dead wrong and it’s not the first time he has been totally wrong. He makes a habit of grave mistakes, but his endless motivation seems to right the ship every time.

Howard stern and Donald Trump at Knicks game with Melania Trump and Beth Stern
Howard Stern and Donald Trump at Knicks game with Melania Trump and Beth Stern

4 – Howard Squandered Donald Trump’s Friendship and Allegiance To The Show

Donald Trump has been a huge fan of The Howard Stern Show for over twenty years. He would often call in to the show to have fun with Howard live on the air and they appeared to have a great relationship both on and off air. Its no secret they went to dinner parties together and loved each other’s company. These guys were clearly friends. The no-holds-barred format of the Stern Show suited Donald Trump very well, with his tell-it-like-it-is style and Howard just loved to ask Trump pretty much anything that could come to mind and Donald would always respond. Some show highlights were the hot-or-not segments, where Trump would rate women on a 1-10 scale and politics, where Trump would always had an opinion – opinions that may now differ with his current perspective. Stern and Trump also have trips together and they were often seen at a Knicks game together or even a fashion show (with both their wives of course). In the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election, the now elitist-liberal Stern shocked everyone by backing Hillary Clinton for President. Why he did this, it is not very clear, but what is clear is that Hillary Clinton made no bones about despising everything that Stern stood for. Clinton hated his show, his lifestyle and his ethos –  yet he still backed her, over his old friend Trump. Stern just proved that despite years of therapy, he really still doesn’t understand what it is like to have real friends and how to treat them. Its obvious that he should have backed his old friend Trump, even though he might have disagreed with him on many subjects. By backing Clinton, Stern gave up his a seat at the Trump table, where he could have steered Trump the right way in so many things. Instead, Stern chose his new rich Hamptons elitist friends over his old friend Trump and now Stern has become a bit of a joke in the industry, with such a huge missed opportunity.  Stern demonstrated that he really has no loyalty to anyone and he will probably die alone, as many of the liberal elites often do, with their fair weather friendships, flighty attitudes and their disconnected opinions.

Stern could have closed out his career with something of great note. He could have even been head of the FCC if he had stuck with his old friend Trump, but he chose to bow to his liberal-elite friends from the Hamptons and forgo what could have been his great swan song.  Trump even asked Stern to speak at the Republican National Conference on his behalf, but Stern took the cowards way out and passed on the offer. Stern was told that he would have had complete control of the narrative and could have done something extraordinary with the end of his career, but he chose the lazy, gutless path that will find him in the footnotes of history, rather than at the forefront of change.

Stern will probably fade into that obscurity under the category under the title of “biggest missed opportunity of my life”.  What an amazing exit to his career it could have been, instead of complaining about the world, he could have actually made a difference and done something about it. Instead he is still doing penis jokes and saving cats, one of which is quite commendable, the other one is still pretty funny – but what a waste when you look back.

5 – Non-Existent Reporting of Mass Firings at the Howard Stern Show

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First it happened at the “Howard Stern E Show” in 1999. Then it happened to “Howard TV” in 2008. And then it happened again at “Howard 100 News” in 2015. It was mass staff firings and if you were listening to the radio, you never heard about them.

If you tuned into the The Howard Stern Radio Show on any the fateful days when any of those Howard Stern Radio departments were completely axed and all staff were fired, you would think that everything was normal at the show, because they did not speak of the great staff culling. On the Radio, you heard Howard talk to wack-pack star “Wendy the Retard” about her “shitting her pants” or “touching herself”, but behind the scenes, the truth was that it was a bloodbath at the show and no-one was safe. In true Howard Stern fashion he said nothing to his listeners, keeping them in the dark as much as he could, instead they found out the gory details later in the newspapers, especially in the Page Six column of the New York Post. When Howard fired the entire Howard Stern News Team on February 10, 2015 , one could argue that it was probably appropriate to handle it in a quiet fashion, but the non disclosure agreement that he made all the parties sign, never allowed them to ever discuss the matter with anyone, as their severance would be cut. To the casual listener, it is not clear why, but one day all the staff were there at the show and the next day they were all gone and absolutely no mention of it on the show. To long term fans that loved the show because of its honesty, this is starting to sound less like The Howard Stern Show and more like life in North Korea, where people disappear and no one speaks about it. A month later, Howard casually mentioned that Lisa G and the rest of the “Howard 100 News Team” were let go. Shuli Egar and Jon Leiberman were fortunate to find other gigs at the show, but the news team was no more. Steve Langford, Ralph Howard and Mike Hambrick were all fortunate to get out before the axe fell, but the axe did fall, and it fell hard. What listeners came away with was more uneasiness on how secretive Stern was becoming and how well that he controlled the narrative following any significant events on the show. Unless it was front page on the New York rag, The Daily News, Stern would not address it at all. Even then he might not address it. Stern controls the microphone, so he also controls the narrative. The attractive quality of the Stern of old that was that he was open and honest, but that was long gone and now the new Stern is all about secrets and lies. It is nothing less than a travesty the he was in fact a liar or he just became one over time.

6 – Original Howard Stern Show Broadcasts Get Less Frequent. Show Repeats Increase.

When Stern first started his radio career, he would broadcast 5 days a week for 6 hours – that is a lot of work and he must be commended for it He kept up this pace for many years, but now the show only only tapes 22 original shows a year and the show does an awful lot of rebroadcasting. Often the shows are repeated without any indication that is an old show at all. Listeners can quickly guess that the show is old when the guest starts referring to a news item that is very dated, like the 9/11 attacks or even Sterns first marriage. Stern adeptly steers celebrities away from material that he knows will get stale and dated in reruns, so he can keep rebroadcasting the show for years. There are often weeks when Howard does not broadcast an original show at all, so it comes as quite a shock to actually hear a new show. Fans are never quite sure if a show is up-to-date, or an old show repackaged or re-purposed for consumption by unsuspecting listeners. Many listeners have objected to paying extra to Sirius for the Stern Show if it is just a month of reruns, but Sirius denied giving anyone a discount, because they have some money troubles of their own.

7 – Howard Always Uses The End of His Contract to Negotiate Better Deals for Himself

It happens every time like clockwork at the end of his contract. Howard says he is not going to renew his contract with whatever the radio station he is on and yet always renews. He uses the negotiation to leverage more money and control out of the network and just makes himself lazier each time. At each negotiation he thinks he is a genius as he negotiates less shows and less compelling content for even more money. Each round seems like another nail in the coffin of the history of The Howard Stern Show, or HSS as it is commonly known, but Howard still has no shame.

crazy cabbie on sirius howard stren show
Crazy Cabbie on Sirius Howard Stern Show

8 – Not Supporting Past Show Guests Who Made Mistakes

It is now clear that Stern does not have any real friends. He certainly does not treat his old acquaintances very well, and that may be down to his inability to be loyal to anyone. It is also true that many celebrities have paid dearly for things they have said on The Howard Stern Show and Howard is more than happy to get the ratings at their expense. One such celebrity, Crazy Cabbie, ended up doing two years in prison for blurting out that he had not filed taxes for a few years. But, the second Cabbie was in trouble, Stern got the hell out of there, not wanting to be associated with him anymore and banning him from the show. Stern would not even turn up for the Crazy Cabbies’ defense fund concert, which Artie Lange did actually turn up for, despite being very high on Heroin at the time. It seems that Stern is all too happy for the radio ratings, but like a fair-weather friend he is gone whenever there is trouble.

Stern often used to describe Artie Lange as “bro”, but Lange called him out on it a few times. Lange stated that the were just not friends off the air, which infuriated Stern that the truth was being told.  When Lange finally left the show under a cloud, Stern pretended what happened to Lange was all cool with him, but Lange contends that Stern is “completely full of it” and has never spoken to him since his departure. Stern is clearly an enabler, as long as it gets him the ratings, he turned a blind eye to Lange’s race-to-the-bottom of heroin addiction . The Stern of old just did his thing and the ratings came. This new Stern is clinging to the ratings and it really does not become him. He has become a sad version of his former self. But at least he has his hot wife and his cats.

9 – Staff Secrets That Never Aired

In a fun bit that the Stern Show does once in a while, some secrets about staff members are discovered and then the radio team play with it for a while with guessing who has what secret. In June 2012 The Howard 100 News Team went above and beyond what was normal research and discovered some delicate secrets about one of the team members. So bad were the secrets that Stern would not allow them to be broadcast on the show. This is pretty dangerous ground for a show that prided itself on honesty that now it self-censors its own content.  This is an example of the lack of transparency on the show and is another reason that shows that Stern became a sellout, something that Stern always hated in his own competitors that included lesser radio titans like Erich “Mancow” Muller and Don Imus. It appears that Stern has now transformed into the very personalities that he has always hated.

10 – The Howard Stern Musical

howard stern musical
Howard Stern Musical

In a seemingly perpetual rotation, the on-again off-again promise of the The Howard Stern Musical on Broadway seems to rear its ugly head every year or so on the show. This happens most often around Broadway’s Tony Nominations, or any time that Howard and/or Robin actually go to see a Broadway show. The bit usually starts with Howard deciding that he can write a Broadway musical on the fly far better than anything Broadway has to offer. In 2008, the bit actually started to take some shape, with a number of people submitting music and scripts, but in true Howard Stern fashion, it all comes to naught as Stern never follows through with anything concrete. For all his great decisions in radio, Stern makes a great deal of terrible decisions in all non-radio matters. His movie being a standout exception, of course, but that does not really count as that was really about his radio career and was an entertaining documentary. Great examples of Howard’s’ missteps included his refusal to make his own a website in 2002, refusal to use Twitter in 2004 and an all around reticence to embrace new ideas bares the sad reality that Howard is his own worst enemy in anything that is not radio related. Apparently Stern has passed on thousands of great movie scripts, as his growing ego would have loved to been seduced by Hollywood, but Stern is careful never to talk about any movie that he passed on that went on to be successful, and one that he could have been the star. In 2008, for example, Stern was offered a significant role in the Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino but Stern managed to find a way to pass that upset Eastwood and the movie studio, and to this day that have never asked again.

To put on the Howard Stern Musical, it is not really that big of a risk as the whole musical-spin-of- across-mediums thing has been done before. In 2008, The Family Guy” TV-to-stage event at Carnegie Hall was hailed as hilarious and box office gold. The irreverent TV show, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, gained incredible accolades for their touring show, The Nightman Cometh, that ultimately ended up getting held over for a few extra days in the Beacon Theatre in NYC. The show was sold out to the point that the secondary market tickets were going for fifty times the face value. Stern should know that, but he always seems to be on another agenda and it might be less than compelling to his fans.

11 – The Howard Stern Wrap-Up Show

The Wrap-Up Show was originally designed as a soft close -out of The Howard Stern Show on the Sirius radio channels. In June 2008 The Wrap Up Show suddenly started getting it sown traction with its own unique content and celebrities. Sometimes celebrities wanted to appear on that show, but did not want to appear on the main Howard Stern Show. In typical Howard Stern fashion, when Stern realized that the Wrap Up Show was getting its own legs, he soon gave the whole new format the kibosh and demanded that the format of that show be returned to only talk about things that had transpired on the main Howard Stern Show. He just a wanted a repetition of things that had happened moments earlier and this show should not be allowed to thrive. This is endemic of Howard encouraging his staff to do other things and then micro-managing their attempts and ultimately putting a stop to anything original that they might come up with. The bits from Christine Gubernale that aired on the Wrap Up Show were priceless, but they now lay on the cutting room floor. Media history is littered with missteps and Stern did not learn that The Tracey Ullman Show will always be remembered as the forum that gave The Simpsons their big first break. Her show was long since been cancelled, but she will be remembered as giving someone a chance. Stern is perhaps far too narcissistic to allow anyone else to try to succeed in anything, especially in a radio format that he helped craft. It is no wonder his daughters grew up hating men.

12 – Howard Stern TV Show Failures

Channel Nine Show, Son of  BeachThe Howard Stern Radio Show and America’s Got Talent

The New York Post described Stern’s first three TV shows thus: “On TV, Stern is revealed as a nasty man-child mired in a midlife crisis, creatively bankrupt and unable to apply his radio genius to a new medium that he obviously doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to understand”. The New York Post was pretty harsh, but correct in many ways as both shows failed after a few seasons due to dismal ratings. Stern’s stint on AGT was a better success and it opened him up to a whole new audience who really had no idea who he was. He lasted three seasons on the show (2012-2015) and was only booted after Simon Cowell (who owns the AGT brand) replaced Stern in season eleven when he needed a job stateside after getting his best friends wife pregnant (You just can’t make this stuff up)

On AGT, Stern proved that he could be family-friendly and his old adversary NBC was suitably impressed. What they were seeing was the pacification of Stern by Beth Ostrosky. She would not have to suffer the indignity that Stern’s former wife, Alison Berns, had to go through when defending Stern’s out-of-control radio antics that made him a fan favorite. Now Stern is just a bore and Berns is actually the wilder one, just not that much in the public eye. Berns is so wild that she has recently been reported to have considered washing the darks with whites on a cold wash, but baulked when it came to start the wash.

howard stern and beth ostrosky at hamptons house

13 – Stern Becomes An Elitist Snob With His $22 Million Hamptons House Purchase

Many people align Stern with making the jump to becoming an elitist snob during the period of his second marriage to Beth Ostrosky and the subsequent purchase of a home in the uber-luxurious town of the Hamptons on Long Island in 2002. It was at this time that Stern could not stop gushing about his sexual conquests with Ostrosky, going to celebrity haunts like The Met Gala and his ability to get reservations at all the top restaurants in NYC. Howards’ constant bromances with the likes of Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Simmons and Matthew Broderick  (all of which are now elitist Hamptons snobs) became as regular as clockwork. His demand to only spend time with celebrities and rich people seemed to be at odds with the persona that many people had fallen in love with when he was the “real” Howard on the radio. He even got married to Ostrosky at Le Cirque, which cost an estimated $1.9 million. Nobu then became his second home during this time and Stern morphed into the type of elitist snob that he had despised only a few years earlier. To this day, Stern still loves to revel in his wealth. The working class people who were the lifelong Stern fans, now feel betrayed. Many people blame Ostrosky for leading Stern to the dark side of liberal elitism. He has now become the joke that he so often has portrayed of others on his own radio show when he would call various people “pussy whipped”.

14 – Howard Stern’s Penis Is Actually Normal Size

A popular bit on the Stern Show will have Howard talking about how small his penis is and how it does not satisfy a woman. This is, in fact, a total lie as his current wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern and his ex-wife, Alison Berns, have both been quoted as describing his penis as a perfectly normal size at just over eight inches. This means that Stern is using his penis as a psychological ploy to attempt to appeal to radio listeners who may be suffering from their own feelings of sexual inadequacy or impotency. This strategy may have worked in the past, but long-term Stern listeners have been wise to his ruse for a long time. If Stern could audibly hear the groan that listeners give out when he brings the penis subject up again and again, he would probably stop trying this tactic that is a relic from the 1980’s version of the show and he really should try something new. But that is the problem – he has nothing new to offer and may be creatively bereft.

Stern will probably lament again today “Robin, you know I have a small penis, right?”

Howard Stern Attempts to Reinvent Himself as a Great Interviewer

In his later radio years, Howard Stern’s interviews have often been very good. He can get celebrities to open up about their lives by discussing his own. Many revelations have come out on his show from ultra famous celebrities about drugs, sex, infidelity, gambling, crime and corruption. Stern should have taken the vacated spot on the Larry King Live show on CNN and closed out his illustrious career as a respected one-on-one interviewer instead of continuing the daily grind, which is still the dated shock jock style radio. The only shock we expect now to see from Stern is him receiving macroshock defibrillation. But this could only happen if he actually had a heart for anything other than his wife or a cat. Even then he might not truly care about them.

Its not too late for Stern, just as it is never too late for any of us.

Jennifer Mosley

Jennifer Mosley has specialized in business analysis since graduating from NYU Stern Business School in 2001. Mosley has become a sought after analyst in the industry. Her writing peers have accused her of spending too much time on Brazilian keratin treatments to tame her unruly locks, but she reminds them that they are misogynist pigs who deserve to be bald. She is currently working on such varied projects as the analysis of the Google corporate breakup and the other important international dilemma between wine or beer shampoo.